Patriots pull off wild comeback
MANCHESTER -- Between his team allowing the first five goals and the subsquent comeback against Burr and Burton Academy, it was enough to make Mount Anthony Union High School boys lacrosse coach Paul Reif's heart skip a beat -- almost literally.
With the teams trading goals in the final minutes and the intensity turned up to full, Reif suffered some lightheadedness and needed the help of his assistant coaches to stay on his feet as the game neared its conclusion.
What he saw was his Patriots finish off a terrific comeback.
Nick Altland scored with 14 seconds left off an assist from Damon Young as MAU toppled BBA in a thrilling 13-12 win.
"We came out mentally and physically tired from yesterday," said Reif, who said he felt fine after the game. "Then to come back against a bitter rival the next day. I have the utmost respect for these guys."
Trailing 9-6 at the half, Mount Anthony scored all three goals in the third quarter, including the last one by Otis Selib with 1:19 remaining in the period to tie the game at 9-9 heading into the fourth.
Then Damon Young scored on a short-handed goal 1:07 into the period to give Mount Anthony its first lead at 10-9.
"I reminded them at the half that three goals is nothing and to keep building the momentum, and we'd be on top in the end," Reif said. "Our motto is ‘next guy up', no excuses, and they rose to the occasion."
Burr and Burton wasn't ready to lay down and die, however. A minute later, Tom Morgantini -- the leading scorer with six goals -- took advantage of a turnover in the MAU zone and tied the game at 10.
The seesaw went back in the Patriots' favor 51 seconds later as Briar Wilkinson found the back of the cage for an 11-10 lead, but BBA's Ben Alexopoulos got open away from the defense with 7:20 to go to tie the game again.
"It was a great game, but I think we lost the lead when we shouldn't," said first-year BBA coach Jason Pergament. "We had a lack of disclipine, too many penalties, not picking up ground balls, and MAU just wanted it more. They took advantage of the opportunities."
MAU regained the lead when Young (three goals and two assists) found Altland (three goals, two assists) again. After a Patriot timeout, Morgantini tied the game at 12, setting up the final dramatics.
BBA held possession under a minute to play, but a shot was high over the net and awarded to MAU.
"In transition, we wanted to bring the ball down quickly, get it to the wing and cut from behind," Reif said. "The entire game they weren't playing attention to the back side, so we had to dodge and draw defenders and it would be open."
Layne Trafton missed on the Patriot possession, but Altland and Young hooked up for the last score.
"We worked the ball around and Damon had it, and they know he's a shooter," Altland said. "Both guys moved [to him] and I took the opening and the pass and executed."
At the start, however, the Bulldogs looked like they would run away with the matchup. Five different players -- Sam McChesney, Morgantini, Jacob Bazyk, Tyeshawn Gadson and Carter Vickers -- scored to give BBA a 5-0 advantage in the first six minutes.
"We had a lot of energy coming out to start, but then we let off the gas pedal," Pergament said. "I pushed them to keep it going, but I think we were overconfident. In the beginning, we made all our shots, to our detrament, because then we started taking low percentage shots."
Thomas Hendery scored the first MAU goals and Trafton added a second with 69 seconds left in the first period.
"I told them it's up to them, they've been here before," Reif said. "They know what they have to do, it's a matter of actually doing it. The coaches can't get out there. They had to dig deep, settle down and start executing, bring up the hustle."
MAU improves to 2-4, while BBA drops to 0-2.
"We'll learn from this loss and get better from it," Pergament said.
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